ARCADIA, Calif. (April 6, 2014)–Next to last in a field of eight older horses going to the far turn under Mike Smith, Tom’s Tribute came roaring down the stretch to win Sunday’s $75,000 Thunder Road Stakes at Santa Anita by 2 ¼ lengths while equaling two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan’s course record for a mile on turf in 1:31.78
With 6-5 favorite Peace and Justice cutting out fast splits of 22.02, 44.09, 1:07.77 and 1:19.98, Smith wheeled his mount wide turning for home and won geared down late.
“We broke a little slow and that turned out to be a blessing,” said Smith of the Jim Cassidy trainee. “I you can get this horse to shut off a little early, he’s got a great kick. It doesn’t happen often enough, but when I can get him to relax, he runs like this.
“I knew they were running up front, they’re really fast horses up there. That really played into our hands today.”
A close seventh, beaten 3 ½ lengths in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile March 8, Tom’s Tribute was the second choice at 3-1 and paid $8.00, $3.60 and $3.20.
“Mike said he geared him down the last sixteenth,” said Cassidy, who registered his second win of the day. “This is a really nice horse. He’s relaxing better now and that’s the key.”
Owned by the Braly Family Trust, Tom’s Tribute, a 4-year-old colt by Lion Heart, picked up $47,400 for the win, his fourth from 10 overall starts. His earnings now stand at $226,880.
The third choice at 9-2, Joelito, ridden by Corey Nakatani, was out-footed by the winner late but got up to finish second by a nose over Bright Thought. Joelito paid $4.80 and $4.00.
Bright Thought, a winner of the Grade II, 1 ½ miles turf San Luis Rey Stakes on March 16, 2013, sat a close second early, made the lead leaving the quarter, but couldn’t hold off the top two. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano and dispatched at 7-1, Bright Thought finished 1 ¼ lengths in front of longshot County Lineman and paid $4.60 to show.
Ridden by Brice Blanc, Peace and Justice weakened to finish fifth, a head behind County Lineman.
“He felt good, but he’s very high-strung,” said Blanc. “We just have to teach him to relax and be a little more mature. He’s very immature mentally. He’s loaded with talent. He’s just immature.”
Racing will resume at Santa Anita with an eight-race card on Thursday. First post time is 1 p.m. and admission gates will open at 11 a.m.